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India says Durga Puja violence disturbing, in touch with Dhaka

There were reports of puja pandals and temples being vandalised in Chandpur, Chattogram, Chapainawabganj and Cox’s Bazar. More than 40 people were arrested in connection with the incident in Cumilla.
Police stand guard next to a vandalised temporary place of worship set up on the occasion of Durga Puja festival in Comilla on October 14, after hundreds vandalised several Hindu temples across the Muslim-majority country following furore over footage of a Quran being placed on the knee of a figure of the Hindu god Hanuman during a religious festival.( AFP)
Published on Oct 15, 2021 03:31 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi/ Kolkata

India on Thursday said it is in close contact with Bangladeshi authorities over attacks on Durga Puja gatherings at several places in the neighbouring country but noted that celebrations were continuing with the support of the government and people.

Durga Puja pandals and temples at several places in Bangladesh were vandalised by mobs on Wednesday following posts on social media about the alleged desecration of the Quran at a pandal in Cumilla district.

The Bangladesh government deployed a large number of security personnel to prevent violence and bring the situation under control after four people were killed and dozens more injured in a clash between a mob and police at Hajiganj in Chandpur district.

“We have seen some disturbing reports of untoward incidents involving attacks on religious gatherings in Bangladesh,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular news briefing.

“Our high commission in Dhaka as well as our consulates in Bangladesh are obviously in very close contact with the authorities in Dhaka and at local levels,” he said, adding details would emerge after an investigation by Bangladeshi authorities.

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Bagchi said the Bangladesh government “reacted promptly to ensure control of the situation, including the deployment of the law enforcement machinery”. He added, “We also understand that the ongoing festive celebrations of Durga Puja continue in Bangladesh with the support of the government of Bangladesh agencies and, of course, a large majority of the public.” Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Thursday the people involved in vandalising Hindu temples must face “exemplary punishment”, and called on authorities and the public to be vigilant to prevent the recurrence of such heinous acts.

“We have already taken proper measures (against the ransacking of Hindu temples). Those who carry out such incidents will definitely be traced out as we did in the past. Exemplary punishment will be given to them irrespective of their religions so that none can dare to do so in future,” Hasina was quoted as saying by state-run BSS news agency.

Following the incident in Cumilla, there were reports of puja pandals and temples being vandalised in Chandpur, Chattogram, Chapainawabganj and Cox’s Bazar. More than 40 people were arrested in connection with the incident in Cumilla.

Reacting to the reports of the violence, Trinamool Congress (TMC) West Bengal general secretary and spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said: “Serious allegations of vandalism of Durga puja pandals have poured in from Bangladesh.” “This is worrisome. It should be investigated. If it is found to be true, the Bangladesh government should take actions,” Ghosh further said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson in West Bengal, Sami Bhattacharya accused the Sheikh Hasina government of inaction. “Such incidents of atrocities on Hindus have increased over the past few months. The government remained a mute spectator,”Sami Bhattacharya further said.

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